Disney diamonds among the duds

By Rachel Nussbaum

"Phineas and Ferb" pioneered a wave of sweet, mindless relief. Photo courtesy of sharetv.org.

It’s an undisputed fact that “High School Musical” launched a genuine Disney craze in 2006.  Suddenly, it wasn’t dorky to go along with the cheese and believe in the highly stylized, beautifully lit and well-groomed Disney ideals. Fast forward four years, and whether they openly admit it or not, many high school students are still hooked.

Though the majority may scoff at the mention of shows aimed at tweens and Jonas Brother-fans, there are still some diamonds hidden with the duds.

In this case, the duds are shows like “Hannah Montana” and “As the Bell Rings.” The diamonds are shows like “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “Sonny With A Chance.”

These shows have an innocent, yet witty humor that makes them both entertaining and corny enough to love. Though a show about a family of wizards could easily turn into an awful and cringe-worthy experience (see “Charmed”), “Wizards of Waverly Place” manages to avoid that unpleasantness. A main character, whose personality is not the result of the standard bubbly and cheerful Disney production, creates a refreshing plot. Alex, played by Selena Gomez, is snarky, and therefore actually funny. As an added bonus, her best friend Harper’s outfits always add an element of surprise-or revulsion-to the show.

The occasionally cloying, laugh-tracked shows are not only appealing to the eye, but also irresistible to the mind.

It’s not exactly irresistible in the intellectual sense; Disney shows certainly don’t fit into the same genre as “A Beautiful Mind.” But, after a long day of graphing polynomials and contemplating the true meaning of Thoreau’s writings, there is little more worth looking forward to.

The show “Phineas and Ferb” is a perfect example of this type of show, though the characters may have scholarly-sounding names. Call it “mind fodder” if you will.  The jokes call for a “Beavis and Butthead” mentality and the grammar probably has Dante wishing he could escape to the ninth circle of hell, but that’s one of the very reasons that the show is loved by so many. It allows students to take a break, something we rarely have time for these days.

Similarly, “Sonny With A Chance,” with its mockery of pop culture and overplaying of entertainment industry stereotypes, provides a good laugh (most days). The rest of the cast is even talented enough to make up for the one or two characters, like the psychotic Zora, who are eye-twitchingly unfunny.

Even better than “Sonny With A Chance” is the Disney classic “Kim Possible.” First aired in 2002, words can hardly describe how fantastic this show is. It includes the voices of Christy Carlson Romano, aka Ren Stevens of “Even Stevens,” as Kim, and Will Friedle as Ron, Kim’s klutzy sidekick. The only flaw with “Kim Possible” is that the earliest it’s on is 1:30 a.m. Despite this inconvenience, probably caused by Disney’s attempts to keep up with the times and appeal to a younger audience, students pulling all-nighters are sure to appreciate the relief. Then again, maybe Disney realized that people awake in those early hours need a bit of comfort.

But alas, that’s the problem with great television. It goes unappreciated by the masses while they go about their day-to-day lives, not thinking about the little shows that are going to brighten their days.

Treasure Disney channel shows, before they go the way of “Cory In the House.” I won’t even get started there.